We Read Anything Once #41 Romanceology
It's not all romance until it is
Welcome back to We Read Anything Once (Twice if We Like It), the book review newsletter that is burning up the charts! Just kidding.
I’m rebooting the newsletter as bite size reviews rather than ones that hovered in the 300-500 word range. Myself and Natalie (the other librarian plowing through their TBR) read a lot to the point I can’t keep up with writing reviews but I can write ones that are short and sweet.
Expect We Read Anything Once, (Twice if We Like It) to come out every Thursday.
If you have any suggestions that could make this newsletter better, send me a comment!
Author: Samantha Young
Publication Date: October 2022
This book is trying too hard.
The premise is novel: an event planner who gets nothing right falls for an astronaut who gets everything right. They connect when she watches the videos meant for another woman so she sends one to him to apologize and when the video is returned, she decides to send videos into the world (knowing they’ll never make it anywhere) to talk about her life. Except, dun dun dun, he gets the videos.
But that’s it. I mean, c’mon. How many fucking romcoms do we need where the heroine is barely 30, is an events planner (or in advertising, or works for a glossy magazine), in NYC? Why not move it to Boston, or DC, or somewhere else. It’s always got to be about NYC which takes control over the story itself. Yeah, we get it, you know NYC. Woop de doo.
I stopped reading after the first 15%, I just couldn’t tolerate another rom com set in NYC that is trying too hard. The story is just average. At best.
Author: Linda Holmes
Publication Date: June 2022
Finally! A romance where the heroine who is very much independent, older, and is more concerned about being her own person rather than being in a relationship.
Books like this are rare. You read my rant about the typical rom coms and here instead we have the antithesis of one that yet, still very much has heart. It’s smart and tender about Laurie who is about to turn 40 and after escaping from a marrying a man very not for her, she flees back to her small hometown in Maine where she comes across a mystery, second chances, self-discovery, and love. Love doesn’t always mean romantic and this book sets up what it’s like to love and be loved from all types of people, places, and things. If you want a look at a life well loved and travelled, read no further. (It’s also a fast read if that is your thing.)
The only hiccup, and it is small, is that the ending seemed a bit forced. I get what Holmes was going for but it could have been better written. And oh! The heroine is plus size. Always a plus in my book.
It’s in His Kiss (Bridgerton #7)
Author: Julia Quinn
Publication Date: March 2017
If you’re not familiar with the Netflix series, Bridgerton, where the fuck have you been? Let me catch you up: Julia Quinn wrote a wildly popular Regency romance series (over eight books!) of the Bridgerton family. Eight children, in alphabetical order, and each book is their own romance. Series 1 and 2 of the show cover books one (Daphne) and two (Anthony).
Quinn is a good writer and she brings her characters to life. They are fully formed characters and not flat. But there is really nothing new here except no Lady Whistledown. :(. We’re on the story of Hyacinth, and Quinn is always good for two to three hot and sexy love scenes.
The nice thing about the Bridgerton series is that you do not need to know the previous books to jump right in so if you’re curious, but have already seen the show, book seven would do nicely. The bonus is that she wrote epilogues for all the books to see what happens to the characters happen 10 - 20 years in the future which is a nice bonus. The epilogues were compiled in ebook form and sold separately but with the new editions now out to support the show, they are appropriatly included with each book.
If you’ve plowed through Bridgerton, I would then recommend the prequels, the Rokesby series.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Publication Date: August 2022
Look, a non-romance! (Okay, okay, there is some romance but it is not the main plot point. Hurray!)
I love witches. I love how authors spin tales surrounding witches regardless if they are in alternate worlds or historical fiction. Like all themes, some are written brilliantly and others not so much. Thankfully, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches errs on the side of brilliant.
Mika Moon thinks she’s one of the last witches in Britain or so she’s been led to believe. Every so often, she meets with other witches but in those inbetween times, they are told to not acknowledge each other for the sake of their own lives. While Mika thinks this is BS, she complies nonetheless by moving around and making YouTube videos on being a “witch.”
But someone figures out she really is a witch and she’s invited to the Nowhere House to help three young witches manage their powers. Secrets, betrayal, friendship, compassion, and love all comes to the surface. Will Mika go back to being alone or will she embrace her chosen family?
The other theme that Mandanna addresses is the theme of “otherness” and how our otherness can be both a blessing, and well, a curse. Mika struggles to form relationships, even friendships, because of who she is and those struggles are palpable and fully formed. Mandanna is very subtle about the use of “otherness” but it’s there as a learning tool and as a quiet plot point.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches turned out better than I anticipated though it is a slow burn in the beginning. If you want a book of an alternate world that touches upon love, life, and the meaning of it all, look no further.
Till next time, your heroine in a book,